Where are the checks and balances?



Ok, so the July 10th meeting is where in the CC Board Meeting it was brought up why they have so many outside collection agencies, and which one were they going to pick based on performance.....yet with all the outside help, only a little more than one third was collected, keeping in mind that these agencies kept a percentage of what they collected, and still they have not collected even half. When John Daley, Finance Committee Chair was asked how much was spent on each vendor who was to collect, because this way they might be able to figure out who is doing their job, he was unable to answer? No wonder so many have been able to steal money from CC, there are no checks and balances. Can't they check a general ledger to see where expenses for outside vendors such as these are? Couldn't they check the check runs, or the bank reconciliations to see where the money went? So many flaws in the finance department. So many ways things fall through the cracks. Who is responsible for the General Ledger? The Bank reconciliations? For auditing check runs? Is it a free for all in the Finance department?
Collection still leaves Cook short
Paid fees do little to help fix budget
By Hal Dardick | Tribune reporter
February 20, 2008

The Stroger administration acknowledged Tuesday it collected only slightly more than a third of nearly $150 million in previously unbilled Cook County public health services, and that's about all it expects to get.

County health officials said they've received about $55 million in unpaid bills. The details on an issue that has been a bone of contention on the County Board came 10 days before the deadline to approve a budget, as Board President Todd Stroger conceded he has "no idea" how to break an impasse with commissioners.

Stroger also said the delay in getting a new budget in place has resulted in a bigger hole to fill. The first-term president said the Health Services Bureau lost $45 million in revenue it would have been able to generate by hiring hundreds of additional health-care workers and serving more patients as envisioned in his proposed budget.

Instead of a $238 million shortfall, the county now faces a projected $283 million deficit under his proposed budget, which included a nearly 7 percent increase in spending. But county officials acknowledged that the salaries and expenses related to the new health hires was not subtracted from the additional $45 million shortfall Stroger claimed.

Commissioners critical of Stroger, however, questioned the president's deficit figures, noting that they were based on his administration's revenue projections and a proposed budget that included more than 1,100 new hires.

Stroger said he remains one vote short of getting his revised $3.2 billion budget proposal passed. Stroger wants the to raise the county sales tax to 2 percent from 0.75 percent and cut 4 percent from his initial proposal in all areas except health care. Only eight of 17 commissioners back the increase.

The only alternative, Stroger maintained, was to cut 18 percent from his proposed budget. Commissioners, meanwhile, are floating potential compromises behind the scenes that include various cuts and tax or fee increases in an effort to find common ground by the Feb. 29 deadline.

Flanked by supportive private health-care executives Tuesday, Stroger said further health services cuts could send those who currently seek treatment at Stroger Hospital or the county health system to private hospitals and health-care organizations that also face financial woes. Commissioner Mike Quigley (D-Chicago), a sales-tax increase opponent, said he sees no emerging budget compromise.

Quigley, other independent Democrats and the board's five Republicans say there is still plenty of fat in the budget, but Stroger on Tuesday labeled that as "just a red herring."

Stroger cited the report of a committee that studied the county's vast public health care system and concluded it could not handle further cuts. The same group also called for an independent board to oversee county health care.

Stroger has established a task force to consider independent governance.

Excerpt from the July 10th meeting, discussing the collection vendors Chamberlain, ESI, HSM and Great Lakes:
The next issue that came up was for 4 million dollars to Chamberlain Associates, who already had a contract for 1.4 million dollars, approved last year for processing claims and wanted 4 million dollars more.

The first Commissioner to ask questions was Tony Peraica. Thomas Glaser, CFO Bureau of Health answered questions. He went on to say that claims are turned over to vendors after 90 days and the people who work at Cook County can't handle the volume.

Peraica said that there should be a competitive RFP process to bid for services especially since it is $4 million more. And that this looks like an emergency basis contract. Glaser said that they have an immediate need, and that they can generate this from the 40 million dollars in claims they will get. He said that Chamberlain and Edmonds specialize in SSI and SSD. Peracia wanted the clarification that they will get 9 1/2% fee.
Commissioner Moreno wanted to know what the other vendors got.
ESI gets 12%, HSM gets 7 3/4% and Great Lakes get 7-8%.
Moreno also wanted to know if they did a comparison of these companies? As far as productivity? Glaser said in mid April they sent out a bid and HSM said they were to small to handle the volume, ESI wanted to use their patient account system and train employees at the county. Great Lakes sent and email, but not a formal bid.

Moreno wanted to know if there were caps on the collections? Glaser did not know.
Moreno asked if it was 4 million for 12 months? Glaser did not know.

Daley said if they are short on intake people how many would they need? Glaser said 171 workers were needed by Dr. Simon's proposal and he is not sure how many would go to this. Daley asked what about performance evaluations on these four companies? Glaser said they were working on an evaluation process.



July 10th meeting where this was brought up and supposed to have been evaluated

Rezko and Levine now claim to have used drugs that cause memory failure. Levine was doing so good remembering things to keep himself out of the pokey, but now this? Is his concience bothering him being a snitch?

Judge rules Rezko's lawyers can explore Levine's drug use
A federal judge ruled Tuesday that lawyers for Antoin "Tony" Rezko can explore at trial allegations of heavy use of cocaine and other powerful drugs by Stuart Levine, the government's key witness, which is a setback for prosecutors that could have significant impact on the extortion case.

In her ruling, U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve disclosed that prosecutors, in sealed court filings, had acknowledged that Levine "consistently used drugs," including cocaine, crystal meth and Ketamine -- a so-called club drug nicknamed "Special K" -- while he allegedly schemed with Rezko.

The defense contends Levine's extensive drug use impaired his memory of critical events, an allegation disputed by the government.


Rezko, a former adviser and fundraiser for Gov. Rod Blagojevich, is scheduled to go on trial March 3 on charges he schemed with Levine to extort investment firms seeking business from the state. Levine, who pleaded guilty to similar charges in 2006, sat on two influential state boards.

The indictment charges that the scheme extended from spring 2003 through July 2004.

Allegations ruled relevant

Prosecutors also sought to block the questioning as irrelevant, arguing Levine only used drugs during "personal social activities."

But St. Eve held that Rezko's lawyers, led by Joseph J. Duffy, accumulated enough evidence on their own to show that Levine's drug use was indeed relevant to the case.

In her ruling, the judge recounted how Levine's former secretary told prosecutors in 2005 that Levine used cocaine daily in his office.

Two years later, she told Rezko's lawyers that Levine had often been high when he came to work and locked himself in his office for up to three hours at a time to snort cocaine. The secretary said she often found cocaine residue and drug paraphernalia in his office.

Alleged abuse detailed

In addition, St. Eve wrote, several of Levine's social acquaintances described Levine as a heavy user of crystal meth, Ecstasy, Special K, cocaine and marijuana.

"One of them reported that Levine would take large amounts of drugs during their all-night partying sessions and would take drugs up until the moment he departed, when Levine -- at times -- would tell his social acquaintances that he had to leave for an 'important meeting,'" the judge's ruling said.

In her ruling, St. Eve said the defense presented evidence that Levine's drug use "became progressively worse between 2002 and 2004."

"In sum, defendant Rezko has presented sufficient information to raise a legitimate issue regarding whether Levine's memory of the events in question was affected by his drug usage," the judge wrote. "It is appropriate for the jury to hear the evidence and determine what weight to give to Levine's testimony."

St. Eve said the defense may cross-examine Levine about his allegedly excessive use of drugs before some of the evening meetings at issue in the case.

Health expert may speak

St. Eve said she will rule later on whether she will allow a medical expert hired by the defense to testify at trial on the impact of Levine's drug use "on his memory, attention span, and his ability to perceive and understand events accurately."

According to a fact sheet by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Ketamine is a tranquilizer most commonly used on animals that can cause "long-term memory and cognitive difficulties" among other side effects in humans.

Levine's attorney, Jeffrey Steinback, has denied that his client was a drug addict or that any drug use impaired his memory.

In her ruling, the judge also blocked Rezko's lawyers from questioning Levine about his "personal social life," saying "its extreme prejudicial impact" on a jury substantially outweighed any potential relevance.

St. Eve did not disclose the nature of Levine's relationships but ruled the conduct was not relevant to the case against Rezko.

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jcoen@tribune.com

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4 Comments:

  1. SP Biloxi said...
    Ha Ha! Love the photo! Separated at birth? Urkel got his work cut out for him by raising taxes. CC can find all the loose change for a budget if the salaries of Urkel and his family and friends were cut. He is really hurting the taxpayers.
    KittyBowTie1 said...
    Now there is a new one, I forgot because of the drugs.
    KittyBowTie1 said...
    Hey Biloxi--can you think of something goofy and funny for the drugs wiped the memory excuse?

    That makes the Twinkie defense seem rather tame.
    SP Biloxi said...
    "can you think of something goofy and funny for the drugs wiped the memory excuse?"

    You mean Gilligan defense? That is the term that I used for the little soldier Libby's memory losee defense. ;-)

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